gap year in israel
October 2021
Gap year in israel - aardvarkisrael
Shalom Parents, Students, Partners, and Staff! 
We are already halfway into the semester (!) and the students have been enjoying their internships, volunteering, classes, and chugim. Each of our communities participated in 3-day seminars in Kibbutz Ketura, down south, near Eilat. They got familiar with the collective lifestyle in the Kibbutz – an Israeli invention. They attended a panel discussion with students from the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies; went bike riding at sunrise; chose from a variety of workshops, from mud building to water painting in the desert; and enjoyed a Kumzits night, a barbecue, and even folk dancing! The seminar in Ketura allowed the students to bond, getting to know more about other students in their communities and themselves. Alex Sandler from Birmingham, UK wrote about his experience: “A lot of people would hate to wake up at 5:30 for a hike through the desert mountains, but those people have clearly never done it in the mountains near Kibbutz Ketura. Standing at a mountain top and staring at the valley glowing in the rising sun, we felt like the luckiest people alive, surrounded by beautiful landscape and wonderful people. Every one of us finished the hike feeling accomplished, and that we had found a little spot of paradise.”  
Jerusalem participants in a panel discussion with arava institute students
Jerusalem participants in a panel discussion with Arava Institute students
Levontin (tlv) students at the kasui sand dunes
Levontin (TLV) students at the Kasui Sand Dunes


The Selah track includes weekly tours, such as one that the students took this month to the Biblical Museum of Natural History, where they learned about indigenous species to the region in biblical times and how they feature in Jewish writing and lore. They learned what makes a kosher shofar, and the attributes of all kosher species. A couple of them even ate kosher locusts! They also interacted with live animals and learned about their connections to Tanach. Our Big Idea students recently visited a company named Pico Kids, which runs tech-based afternoon activities for children in the Talpiyot neighborhood of Jerusalem. The purpose of the company is to give children and youth hands-on experiences and 21st-century skills in areas such as science, technology, mathematics, engineering, and entrepreneurship. Our students also tried their hand at 3D printing and laser cutting!
Ben holds the tiniest tortoise at the biblical museum of natural history!
Ben holds the tiniest tortoise at the Biblical Museum of Natural History!
Max, liam, elliot, and samuel from big idea at the pico kids center in jerusalem
Max, Liam, Elliot, and Samuel from Big Idea at the Pico Kids center in Jerusalem


Intern, volunteer, and develop professionaly
Through internships and volunteering, our students are developing their own sense of responsibility and professionalism. The MADA (Israeli emergency services) interns recently finished their training. Ella Shapiro from Massachussetts, US wrote: “I am so happy to start my MADA volunteering! We finished our long but very exciting 60-hour course! Even though the days were challenging, we had a lot of fun. We learned very important skills such as performing CPR and treating wounds. I am looking forward to putting our skills to good use on the ambulances!” Gabi Green from Australia is Interning at ‘Kli-chè’: “I love working at Studio Kli-chè. The environment Liana (the owner) provides is welcoming, exciting, fun, and she caters to your wants and needs. I have learnt mesmerizing art techniques in just a few short days. I am excited to see what I can learn in the future.” Nomi Benus from Maryland, US interns at a jewelry store called Lady Morgana, which she says has made an impact on her experience in Israel: “I do many different things at the store and am gaining new skills. Learning how to make jewelry has been such a great experience so far. I also get the benefit of doing other stuff around the store, like organizing, putting price tags on items, and other tasks that teach me responsibility. I am excited to continue and learn more.”
Gabi working at her internship at kli chè
Gabi working at her internship at Kli Chè
Nomi making jewelry at lady morgana
Nomi making jewelry at Lady Morgana


On some of our recent Tuesday Tiyulim, students visited the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem and went on a cultural tour in Jaffa, learning about the complexities of coexistence in these two cities, where Jews live side-by-side with Arabs. Also in October, our Tel Aviv students traveled to Khirbet Midras, where they learned about the history of Bar Kokhba revolt, and also visited Beita Israel, a cultural center of the Jewish Ethiopian community in Israel, where the students built houses from mud, just like they do in Ethiopia. They enjoyed Buna, a traditional coffee ritual, where they cooked the coffee beans and said a blessing on Dabo, an Ethiopian bread. They also traveled to the Carmel Mountains, up in the north, which is a UNESCO biosphere reserve (!)
Jerusalem community at the dome of the rock
Jerusalem community at the Dome of the Rock
Florentin community on their jaffa day trip
Florentin community on their Jaffa day trip
Yarden and josh saying a blessing over bread and coffee at beita israel
Yarden and Josh saying a blessing over bread and coffee at Beita Israel
Sarah and leav trying out traditional ethiopian mud building
Sarah and Leav trying out traditional Ethiopian mud building
Levontin community at the carmel mountains
Levontin community at the Carmel Mountains
Levontin students at khirbet midras
Levontin students at Khirbet Midras
Our students joined other Masa gap-year participants this month at Masa’s annual event for the opening of 2021-2022 programs at Ganei Yehoshua in Tel Aviv. They were treated to a show by Hatikva 6 – one of the most famous bands in Israel, danced at a headphones party, and even learned some new Brazilian dance moves! Happy November everybody!
Gap year in israel - aardvarkisrael